Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Gonna Need a New Pair of Boots

Md. to enforce ban on boots blamed for stream ills
As an algae with a gross nickname invades pristine trout streams across the U.S., Maryland is about to become the first state to enforce a ban on a type of footgear the organism uses to hitchhike from stream to stream: felt-soled fishing boots.

The state Department of Natural Resources plans to prohibit wading with felt soles starting March 21 to curb the spread of invasive organisms that can get trapped in the damp fibers and carried from one body of water to another.

Similar bans will take effect April 1 in Vermont and next year in Alaska, aimed especially at didymo, a type of algae that coats riverbeds with thick mats of yellow-brown vegetation commonly called "rock snot."

Maryland fishery regulators say didymo, short for Didymosphenia geminata, can smother aquatic insect larvae such as mayflies, stoneflies and caddis flies that are favored food for trout...
Me with a Steelhead from the Salmon River, 2002
I bought a pair of felt soled boots several years ago when I went on a Steelhead fishing trip to the Salmon River, New York.  They are wonderful in streams filled with large, slimy cobbles, or with large slick rocks.  They have been my "boots of choice" for field work ever since.  One disadvantage is that the felt picks up a lot of material, and if you wear them in a muddy marsh, as I often do, it's very difficult to get all the black, smelly mud out of the felt. 

Will it stop the spread of Didymo?  I doubt it, since there are numerous other vectors.  It may slow it down, some, though, until the stream community can adapt to it.

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